The DMV area is teeming with hip consignment and thrift stores which are often overflowing with colorful dresses, antique broaches, and stylish shoes. It’s not always about getting a disco suit from 1975, fyi. Towards the end of last year, I was getting into the art of thrifting thanks to Macklemore and thanks to Go Go’s Retread Threads (a consignment store in a bus with a hip, fun owner).
At this point, I wouldn’t deem myself an expert—though I did perform hours upon hours of research on the topic. The best way you can learn how to thrift is by doing it yourself and by reading blogs by fashionistas who know how to assemble an outfit without splurging much cash.
Stephanie Hernandez, thrifting guru behind Thrift and Style’s website, has been thrifting for quite some time now and her ensembles have won her a strong reputation online. As an ardent fan of her website, it was an honor to have interviewed her for my website! I hope you enjoy what you read and visit her website Thrift and Style whenever you need any inspiration for your wardrobe.
Q&A with Stephanie Hernandez
Sherryn: What got you into thrifting?
Stephanie:When I was in high school and then later in college I used to go to thrift stores with pals to look for goofy t-shirts or halloween costumes. One day, on a whim, I decided to check out the dresses section. I was BLOWN AWAY by what I found. There were cute things that looked barely worn and for amazingly low prices! At the time I was living on a student’s budget so it was a perfect way to get cute clothes for affordable prices. Everything kind of evolved from there and I’ve been obsessed with the hunt of thrifting ever since!
Sherryn: What makes you an expert in it in the DMV area?
Stephanie: I would by no means call myself an expert, but I through trial and error and many (many) trips to various thrift stores in the area I’ve found out a thing or two about how to be a successful thrifter. It takes a lot of patience and a passion for the thrill of the hunt. Not being a germaphobe helps too! If you want to read more about what I’ve learned after many years of thrifting research, check some tips I wrote about it here and here.
Sherryn: How do you know which is a good thrift store and which will not reap anything beneficial?
Stephanie: There are a few ways to figure this one out; you can always ask around to other thrifty friends and see which stores they have had luck in, or you could go online and check out reviews (TheThriftShopper.com is a good one). But in my opinion what really works best is to just check out the stores in your area a few times and see what you come up with! You may be unlucky in your first visit but your second visit you may discover your best score yet! Since the shelves are always being restocked you never know what you’re going to get. If you find yourself coming up short in the same stores and always seem to find good things in other stores- stick to the ones where you have been successful!
Sherryn: What items of clothing do you recommend people get at the thrift store?
Stephanie: You can usually find me in the dresses or shoes section, but I also enjoy looking for tops, blazers, pants and sweaters. A good rule of thumb is to really inspect each item of clothing that you want to purchase and make sure there are no stains or unrepairable rips/tears/holes. It definitely helps to try them on first, too! I often find myself looking for trendier pieces at thrift stores since they may not be in style next season and it will be easier to give them away knowing I didn’t spend very much on it.
Sherryn: What items of clothing do you NOT recommend people get at the thrift store?
Stephanie: I tend to stay away from hats since I’m terrified of getting lice, but if you inspect it well and you have a way to somehow clean/wash it before wearing it, you’ll probably be ok. I also don’t particularly want to wear someone else’s underwear, lingerie, or bathing suit so I’d suggest you do the same!
Sherryn: When is it the best time to thrift?
Stephanie: Certain thrift stores have specific days of the week where they give percentages off, or they have specials on holidays. You can check out more details about this on a blog post I wrote here. I also try to go on week days instead of weekends if I can help it since I don’t want to have to deal with heavy crowds. If I do go on the weekends it helps to get there early before the place has been picked over!
Sherryn:Where are the best thrift stores in the DMV area?
Stephanie: This really depends on what you are looking for! I tend to like places that sell a mix of various things so my preferred thrift stores are Goodwill, Unique and Savers. I also like their relatively organized set up, the fact that they are generally close to where I live, and I tend to have pretty good luck finding things each time I go to them. Someone else may have a completely different experience, though, so it’s best to just try out a bunch of different stores in close proximity to where you live and see what you think for yourself!
Sherryn: Do you have any tips you would like to share on fixing clothes or with customizing wardrobes?
Stephanie: If I see a piece of clothing that I LOVE and it just needs to be altered a bit, I’ll still get it if it’s something I know I can do myself easily. If it looks like something that is for a more seasoned seamstress, or might cost twice as much as I’m paying for the garment, I’ll leave it. For customizing your wardrobe, it just depends on what you already have, what you need, and what speaks to your style aesthetic. I also usually encourage people to push themselves a little bit out of their comfort zone to try something that you might not normally wear- you never know what you might find out about yourself!
Sherryn:Do you have any fashion advice for this winter? What is “In” and what is “Out”?
Stephanie:This winter I’ve been obsessed with all things plaid, winter florals, faux leather, and ankle booties. With the new year all eyes are on Spring trends (glorious, glorious Spring!) and I can’t wait to wear pastels, crop tops and tea length skirts.
Stephanie Hernandez is the creator and editor over at thriftandstyle.com. To keep up with all things thrifty, you can follow her on instagram at @stephernan, on twitter at @thriftandstyle, or like her Facebook page.